Friday, March 02, 2007

Future Fiction Writers of America

The final project for my honors freshmen English class was to write a short story - a minimum of three pages long, that contained all the story elements we discussed in class. I'm grading them now.

Here is my semi-stream-of-consciousness as I read. Share my thoughts, everybody.

The first three I picked up were about people dying. They all included really melodromatic funerals. What the hell is a "sad burning candle" anyway?

If I have to read "She couldn't believe this was happening to her" one more time I'm going to start gauging teenage eyes out with white board markers.

The biggest problem I'm seeing is a complete lack of obstacles. Girl meets boy. Girl gets boy. Girl and boy live happily ever after at Six Flags eating churros every day for breakfast and dancing in a fountain of sangria. There's no conflict, despite the fact that I spent an enormous amount of time explaining the importance of conflict. They've all forgotten rule #1 in my classroom: Don't bore the teacher.

Oh good. A soccer story. This will be about triumph. No, wait, it's about a kid who breaks his ankle and has to sit out a few games and then goes back to playing again. No games, no discussion about life with limited mobility, just a few phone conversations with his coach and his doctor. Does anyone listen when I talk?

Apparently they were listening when I talked about description. Clearly I went overboard in my enthusiastic endorsement of vivid visuals because I now know what every character is wearing, what their hair color is and how many buttons are on the front of their sundresses, but I have no idea what their personalities are like.

At least they're all indenting when new people talk. That's something.

This should be good. Opening lines: "Dante's a child born out of love and hate, darkness and light. His father a demon from Hell, his mother half angel and human."

Oh hell yes. It's about time:
"Dante didn't like the shit the demon was talking to him. He just went to the point. Dante took out his two guns and shot the demon 40 times every bullet just pass through the body of the demon, blood was flying it was dripping to the floor. Dante didn't stop there. He took out his sword and killed the demon taking his head out and slicing him in half."

Unfortunately Dante says this as he's slicing bitches in twain: "My father is the Demon of Hell. He betrayed my mother and left me alone to hate everything in life! You're no different from my father! Die you pitiful demon and go back to Hell!"

I swear we talked about subtext.

One student wrote a biography of her life with a lot of emotional exploration and honesty and actual good grammar and spelling and real paragraphs. Unfortunately it's not a story.

They're improving. Or maybe my brain is so fried that I only think they're getting better. Here's a story about a boy who makes his brother crap his pants and then covers him with chicken feathers.

Oh good. Another story about death. Oh wait. It's about a dog.

And death.

"I have a goal. That goal is to be able to go to the prompt with a guy I like."

The guy she went to the prompt with is hit by a car.

Here's a story about a guy who's friend goes to El Salvador. He's shot and killed.

Here's a story about a guy who gets haunted after playing with a Ouija board. He kills himself.

Wow. This guy goes on a violent rampage and kills everybody in his immediate vicinity. Now he has to take over the neighborhood and get a high school diploma. Like Sydney Bristow. I'd watch that movie. Too bad the kid hasn't been introduced to punctuation.

Here's the girl who wrote a Charmed fanfic. Wow. This girl has real talent even though her story needs a lot of work. One day I'll hire her to write for the show I'll be running.

I'm so tired of writing the words "Show don't tell."

This kid wrote an after school special. She wrote about a boy who gets his girlfriend pregnant and goes to prison for life because he joined a gang. "This young boy didn't even get to finish school so stay in school and get a good career."

Oh my god this is the most boring story ever. It's basically a phone conversation between two giggly teenage girls.

And that's a wrap. I'm on vacation as of 1 p.m. today, so there won't be any more papers to grade until April. Expect those progress bars to grow by leaps and bounds.


  1. Wow! I love the "sad burning candle"!!!! These are great! You must giggle a little out loud while reading some of these. you're lucky in a way because I find that when confronted with having to teach someone about storyboarding or whatever I find that I didn't know how much I actually know (weird sentence structure, I know) until I say it out loud. I actually learn a little from myself. Does that even make sense? You get to do it everyday. In other words as you teach these kids how to write, you are, in a way, teaching yourself. I don't know if that makes sense but it does in my head.

    Vacation, huh? Lucky. I so wish i could take a few weeks off to just develop projects. Ahhh. Duty calls... My wife is expecting (#3) so no breaks here! Good luck with the projects and did you buy that megaphone yet?


  2. Oh my gosh, the "prompt" was hilarious.

    Enjoy your vacation!


Please leave a name, even if it's a fake name. And try not to be an asshole.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.